Glitz and Glam Chocolate Tart with Chai Caramel on Oscar Night!

Chocolate Tart with Chai Caramel Recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

For the Oscars I thought it would be fun to do a dessert with some bling! There’s nothing like adding gold leaf to a decadent chocolate caramel tart to make it worthy of a black tie affair. I was cozied up in my pajamas with a room full of my girlfriends, but despite our lack of proper attire we sipped champagne and ate gold leaf.

I had lofty aspirations of seeing all of the nominated films, but alas life got in the way and I only saw a couple of them. The film getting all the buzz this year is Slumdog Millionaire, and it is one that I saw. I must say I loved it! The movie, set in India, was complicated, gritty, suspenseful, endearing and touching. All of the qualities that a great movie should have. This movie, along with the newest addition to my cookbook collection La Maison du Chocolat*, was the inspiration for this chocolate tart with chai caramel. I started with the classic combination of chocolate and caramel, but I added the spices of India to the mix.

Cheers and may your favorite film win! Read More

Saffron Panna Cotta (From one of my favorite new books!)

Saffron Panna Cotta Recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

My husband is going to have a fit when he realizes that I’m talking about his diet on my website. It really does have some relevance to this post, so I hope he will forgive me! He went to the doctor recently and was basically told he needed to cut back on butter, cream and puff pastry. Hahaha. Can you imagine how a request like that goes over in my house. We both stared at the contents of our refrigerator and sighed. After the shock wore off we decided to approach his doctor’s advice as a challenge. How can we continue to satisfy our love of eating and cooking, but do it in a way that fits his new diet. I immediately saw it as an opportunity to buy more cookbooks.

Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift from the Splendid Table just came out with a fantastic book How to Eat Supper. It has encouraged us to try new things and rethink some of our classic recipes. Much like the philosophy Jeff and I have written about in our book about bread, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, they use for cooking. The food we cook should be fresh, made with great ingredients, fit into our busy schedules and above all else taste great! They deliver on all fronts and I just love this book!

One of the desserts I’ve tried from it is Lynne’s saffron panna cotta recipe. Read More

My Aunt’s Birthday Cake flies to Florida!

Birthday Cake Recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Many of you may have read about my aunt Kristin in past posts. She is a true lover of food and cook books. In fact, she supplies me with a great number of the books that fill my shelves. That is saying a lot considering I own hundreds of them. In addition to the books she sends me articles and pictures of food, mostly pastry. She has been a constant source of inspiration. Her birthday is coming up and because she lives in FL I can’t be at the party. In my stead I sent a cake to the party. My father, who lives just blocks from me, carried the cake on his lap during his flight to see her. When I handed over the cake, all nestled safely in a cake box, my dad said “can’t you pack it with pop corn or bubble wrap?” I took a deep breath and said “No, dad you can’t pack a cake with bubble wrap!” LOL!

Happy Birthday Kristin! I love you bunches and hope the cake got to you in one piece and everyone enjoyed it!

Read More

Chocolate Poached Pears!

Chocolate Poached Pears Recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Every New Years Eve my husband and I stay home and have raw oysters, lobster and champagne. This has been our tradition ever since we moved to Minnesota, 15 years ago. Graham proposed to me on NYE so it has always been a special night for us. This year our two young boys joined us in the celebration. They helped to shuck the oysters and then reluctantly slid them down. Our 9-year-old was satisfied with just one and will perhaps forgo this part of the tradition next year and head straight for the lobster! 😉 Our 7-year-old, on the other hand, ate the oysters like popcorn. The only problem with having a child who likes raw oysters is now I have to share!

After a meal this rich I wanted something decadent, but light. Poached pears seemed the perfect ending, but with a twist on the classic. Pears slowly poached in chocolate sauce. Gorgeous and luscious, but absolutely no fat in the entire recipe. The 4 of us ushered in the New Year while playing scrabble and eating our pears! Not exactly the dance-all-night-raves of our youth, but just as wonderful! Read More

Happy New Year! Chocolate, Candied Ginger and Grapefruit Biscotti!

Chocolate, Ginger and Grapefruit Biscotti Recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

What a year it has been. It started with the launch of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. A project that I knew was a great concept, but had no idea that so many people would embrace it. Thank you all for the fabulous support and wonderful emails, pictures and thought provoking questions you’ve sent! Due to those inquiries and suggestions Jeff and I have embarked on our second book. This time we are focusing on breads made with whole grains and really healthy ingredients, that are still fast, easy and tasty! Even some gluten free breads. The book is due at the publisher in TWO days and we are working like crazy to get it in on time. It should be available next fall.

Of course, I need something to nibble on as I work on the book so I made my favorite biscotti. This is the one cookie that I can not keep my hands off of. I force myself to give some of them away so that I don’t eat the entire batch all by myself! 😉 Read More

“Red Hot” Boston Cream Pie

Boston Cream Pie Recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

This week was my husband’s birthday and he requested a true American classic for his cake, Boston cream pie. Light pillowy sponge cake with layers of rich vanilla pastry cream and topped with a smooth chocolate glaze. Why do we call this cake a pie? It was invented in the 1850s by a French pastry chef working in Boston. My theory is that he got lost in translation and mistakenly called it a pie! (But I’m making that last bit up.) Whether the name fits or not hardly matters, it is delicious. In fact, my family loved it so much the four of us ate the entire 8-inch cake in one sitting. I was thrilled except I never got a picture of it for this post.

The next day a package arrived in the mail from the White On Rice Couple, Diane and Todd. It was a perfect stick of Vietnamese cinnamon bark. I had won it during a giveaway they had on their fabulous website. It is not an exaggeration to say that this gift has changed my life. Read More